Diabetes: Is Sitting the new Smoking?

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N., and Peggy Moreland, R.N.

Controlling Your Diabetes

I recently heard a new phrase, “Sitting is the new smoking.” Where did this phrase come from, and what does it mean? Should your couch now be listed on a health risk assessment?

Based on some new research, it sounds like the amount of time spent on the couch or in a chair may indeed increase your risk of developing heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and even early death.

Marc Hamilton, a leading researcher on inactivity physiology, suggests that sitting is “the new smoking.” James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and researcher, says obese people sit on average two-and-a-half hours more every day than thinner people.

When you sit for long periods of time, your body goes into “storage mode” and can even make your bottom bigger. This all dates back to our ancient Neanderthal ancestors who were hunter-gatherers and constantly on the move. We move 90 percent less than our ancestors did 100 years ago. Sitting in front of the TV isn’t the only health concern. Any prolonged sitting, such as behind a desk or behind the wheel, can be harmful.

The solution is less sitting and more overall activity. Some suggestions for while you’re working include using a standing desk or one designed to be used with a treadmill and holding walking meetings with colleagues. Other, less intrusive options could include taking frequent standing breaks, stretching or walking for a bit every 90 minutes, standing while talking on the phone and taking the stairs.

The bottom line is: keep moving. Your thoughts?

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